The Park Rapids Area School Board on Monday recognized recent high-level achievements by the high school's gymnastics coach and members of its speech team.

Cyrus Gust was unanimously elected Class A state gymnastics coach of the year by his peers. He was also coach of the year for Section 8.

Activities Director Jeremy Nordick said that in Gust's first year as head coach, "for him to get state coach of the year says a lot about what he brings to the table."

Highlights of the school's gymnastics season included a varsity team score of 126.55, the team's highest in 15 years; a full junior varsity roster with a team score of 100.7 and rising; the team's highest floor score in 20 years and highest vault score in 10 years; three new school records; a Gold Academic Award with a team GPA of 3.957; and a team whose mental toughness has been remarked on by other coaches.

In a statement read by Nordick, Gust said he is "honored for the opportunity to oversee the Park Rapids Area gymnastics program" and doesn't consider it to be his team, but the community's team of which he is "merely a steward."

"He has a progressive vision for gymnastics overall," said Nordick, crediting Gust and his coaching staff for the fact that the team's practice room is constantly in use. "They're moving forward. He has a big, bright vision for the future of Park Rapids gymnastics. Bottom line is, we've got the best in the business."

Asked to comment, Gust said, "Just a credit to my team and my coaches. It was a team effort."

State speech winners

Head speech coach Tanya Miller said it was a transition year for her program, with a brand new coaching staff and a smaller team, but it went well.

"Out of the 19 students that we brought to subsections, 17 of them made it to sections," she said. Of those 17, five students made it to the final round and three made it to state competition April 12 in Wayzata.

Miller reported that the duo interpretation team of Kaelan Emerson and Kole Gieseke took first place in their category at sections and placed third at state. This enabled them to qualify for the National Interpretive Events Tournament of Champions (NIETOC) May 10-12 in Omaha, Neb.

Deserae Kohrs also participated at state in the storytelling category and did very well, Miller said, but did not make it to the final round.

Emerson and Gieseke performed their selection for the school board, a nearly 10-minute interpretation of "The Crayon Map" by Oliver Leslie and Christopher Marianetti, depicting two young brothers exploring a fantasy landscape of talking flowers and giant fish.

Later, the school board approved out-of-state travel for the speech students and coaches attending NIETOC.